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Day Zero: Through Canals in Copenhagen

DENMARK | Monday, 21 October 2013 | Views [1338]


After touch down at Kastrup airport, grey leaden sky and a tickling breeze reached me, welcoming me with the promise of good Nordic weather. I hailed a cab for the airport and the smooth plain roads of Copenhagen on a Sunday afternoon appealed instantly to my inherent wanderlust. Coming from the bustle of Mumbai, a city I had recently shifted to, a city grossly infamous for its traffic jams and a place you drive on only to survive, this lovely Danish town with Nordic weather at its best and level roads, I wanted to speed.

My thoughts shifted to cycles, as Cyclists whizzed past us at every crossing. The city with its flat plains has the highest number of cyclists in the world. And according to one survey I read upon reaching back, the happiest people in the world too.

As I mentally shuttled between different modes of transport, my cab reached the First Hostel on Vesterbro road and I met Simon, the Founder of World Nomads. I dumped my bags and we both sat talking. He wanted to know more about me and my education and our talks shifted to education systems across the world, Japanese system of learning by rote (very similar to education in India) compared to education for passion and interest. I kept thinking of all the students who’d be appreciative of the changes as and when made.

Just as we were on travel and photography, Jason reached and I finally met Him. A giant smile on his face and a warm hug later, it was as if I was meeting some old friend after a very long time. His friendliness and laughter puts you at an instant ease, and you can’t help but start feeling excited about the trip ahead, putting apprehensions on snooze. I was feeling thankful and happy about Jason’s friendliness; I was jolted to Copenhagen reality when he said, ‘ten minutes outside’. 

And surely enough, few minutes later, we were out on the Copenhagen streets, strolling around and shooting. I had landed in the city only an hour back, after battling a right to fly and a very long flight! My Jet lagged body was aching for sleep but I also wanted to see the little bit of Denmark I could in the limited time I had.

I met Richard and Daniel from the National Geographic Production team at the gate, and all five of us set out to see this capital city. We headed off to Amagertov Square where people ambled around its numerous fountains. A couple coaxed frolicking children into making giant bubbles with ropes tied to two sticks. Painters sat spraying cans of artistic expression on Canvas. The relaxed and easy pace of a Sunday afternoon serenaded around.  

Jason had reached a couple of days ahead of the rest of us and was an expert on the Dos and Must-Dos here. On his advice, I took the Canal Boat Ride through the city. Others had more time in the city after returning from Greenland, and with my recently changed flights, today was the only available ‘light’ that I had. Richard came along.

The Canal boat tour gave us a different perspective of the popular tourist sites and was as much of Copenhagen that could be packed in a few hours, probably why Jas recommended it so much. The city runs on both sides of the Danube and the excellent canal system adds to the navigability and ambience. Bright coloured houses with huge windows housed people in fabulous balconies, sitting, laughing and sipping wine. Heady romance crooned from every corner.  

I was standing and shooting; looking at people; at houses with coats of paint that looked as fresh as if done yesterday, with facades done in tan orange, bright yellow, red, and powder blue; roads and lanes connected by bridges. I had to duck each time the boat passed under a bridge. The game of ducking and shooting and capturing was getting interesting. The tour guide pointed out a house on the right as Hans Christen Anderson’s and I started shooting immediately, recollecting all the fairytales of his I had read growing up. Thumbelina, Little Mermaid, Ugly Duckling floated in my head. I was excited at this ‘discovery’ and thoughts of how apt a place to conjure up such amazing tales crossed my mind. In my excitement it turns out, I had shot the wrong house. Red house on the right- there were two, in different shades. Damn! Changing boats, we passed the thinnest house in Copenhagen and the Little Mermaid Statue among other city’s popular landmarks.

The tour boat dropped us back to the same spot, and Rich and I tried to reach the rest of the gang. Shifting through streets full of premium brand outlets next to chic cafes, we were lost trying to find the guys. Few helpful strangers, a call and some wandering later, we found them at Nyhavn, a road lined with open-air restaurants by the canal front. We all sat chuckling and guzzling beer before heading back. 

Back at the Hotel, Lykke, our friend from ‘Visit Greenland and Destination Arctic Circle’ had dropped off a backpack and a fleece for me. Between, unpacking and repacking, charging my equipment and journal entries, I was already dozing off. Five hours, and I’d be back at the airport.     

Tags: arrival, canals, city, copenhagen, denmark


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